LEBANON, Tenn. – Tanner Hurst finished second in the criterium, Britton Kinnard placed second in the road race and the Cumberland men were second in the team time trial, leading the Bulldog cycling team at the Seminole Classic last weekend in Tallahassee, Fla.
The second road race weekend of 2013 featured other Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (SECCC) members Florida, Georgia, Lees-McRae, Clemson, King College, Virginia Intermont, Auburn, Georgia Tech and South Florida. Cumberland fielded six Men A, two Women A, two Women B and one Men C riders for the weekend.
The 54-mile Men A road race was animated with attacks on the first lap that saw Kinnard get into a seven-man breakaway containing all the key schools. The lead breakaway dwindled to five as they neared the finish and Kinnard motored to the finish line in second place. Clemson’s Alex Kellum was just ahead of Kinnard by a few bike lengths.
“It was nice. I had the momentum on the Clemson guy but just couldn’t close it down,” Kinnard said of taking second place. “Florida and Lees-McRae and I were all watching each other. The three of us were more concerned with each another than him. He was able to take the opportunity and go with it and held it just to the line.”
A second breakaway of five men containing Hurst chased the leaders for the final two laps without catching the lead group, but Hurst took second from his group for ninth place. The pack sprint came in several minutes behind, as Michael Palevo sprinted to a 17th-place showing
“I countered Ryan Sullivan’s attack and I got off solo for about 10-15 minutes. I saw there was a group coming up to me, so I just held off and tried to get my heart rate back down,” said Hurst of the chasing breakaway. “I was happy. It hurt,” joked Hurst.
The 27-mile Women A and B road race started together and after the first lap, three CU women were still in the lead group – Morganne Endicott, Kyrstin Bluhm and CaSarah Gilliam. Cathy Hamilton was in a small chase group not far behind.
At the beginning of the final lap Gilliam lost contact, as a small group of four women attacked to split the lead pack. Endicott and Bluhm were forced to chase but were unable to reach the four leaders. Bluhm took sixth in the pack sprint to finish ninth on the day and Endicott finished 14th. Gilliam placed fourth and Hamilton was ninth in Women B.
William Greene sprinted to ninth place in the 27-mile Men C field of 65 total racers, his best road race finish in his young cycling career.
Forecasted rain held off all day until the beginning of the seven-mile team time trial. The CU men were the first team to start as the skies opened with a steady downpour. The Bulldogs finished second with a time of 16:06, just 11 seconds behind the event winner, Florida. CU finished with just three riders, as Logan Luker suffered a flat tire after the turnaround mark.
“Flat tires are a part of bike racing and never come at a good time,” head coach Tim Hall said. Lees-McRae finished thitrd at 16:11 and Mars Hill was fourth at 16:25.
The Cumberland women finished fourth with a time of 20:23, only one second from third-place finisher Lees-McRae. King College won the team time trial with a time of 19:21, while Florida Gators was second at 19:28.
“Our women are making progress. We are working on improving their communication and technique, plus equipment upgrades, which all should lead to even faster times in the future,” Hall said.
The weekend wrapped up with a criterium in downtown Monticello on a four-corner, one-kilometer course. The Women raced a combined A/B field for 35 minutes with 26 total women beginning the race.
After 10 minutes the pack separated, with Women A in the lead and most Women B chasing behind. Endicott and Bluhm were in the main lead field, which stayed together despite attacks by riders from every school. Endicott sprinted to 11th and Bluhm finished 15th, while Gilliam placed fifth and Hamilton was eighth in Women B.
The Men A raced for 60 minutes and started with a field of slightly over 40 riders. The first 20 minutes saw attacks from Cumberland, Lees-McRae and Florida, but all were chased down before Sullivan led an attack with four other riders.
As this five-man break was establishing, Hurst attacked from the main field to bridge up to the breakaway. Sullivan was outnumbered by Lees-McRae and Florida riders, so to have a teammate in the break was crucial for CU’s chances. Hurst was able to reach the leaders, but he also brought three other riders with him to create a nine-man breakaway.
The lead break eventually built a gap of over 30 seconds. Riders from every school in the lead break attempted to split the group with no success, while the chasing field was controlled by Kinnard, Luker and Tommy Schubert.
The leading nine men came down to a sprint and Hurst narrowly missed victory, as he sprinted to second place behind Lees-McRae’s Zac Felpel. Sullivan finished fifth and Schubert won the field sprint for 10th place. Kinnard took the final points, placing 20th.
“Our men executed perfect team tactics today. We have racked up quite a few second places these first two weeks of racing, but I’m confident we’ll turn those into victories soon,” Hall said.
After two weekends of racing, Cumberland is tied for second with Lees-McRae in the Division I team omnium A points for road nationals, both with 169 points. Florida is leading the SECCC with 226 total points. Cumberland now takes a week off from road racing, but Hall and Bluhm will travel to Phoenix, Ariz., for Collegiate BMX Nationals on March 2nd. Cumberland’s next road race takes place at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Ga., on March 9-10.